Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) will remove the controversial book "Gender Queer: A Memoir," written by Maia Kobabe, from school library shelves, a spokesman announced Friday. The school district in nearby Fairfax County has stood by the book, saying that it is not obscene and does not contain pedophilia, yet Loudoun Superintendent Scott Zielger – who has faced pressure from parents and from incoming Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin on other issues – decided to remove the book, calling it inappropriate for school.
"The pictorial depictions in this book ran counter to what is appropriate in school," Ziegler wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. "I read every book that is submitted for my review in its entirety. I am not generally in favor of removing books from the library."
Ziegler requested a review of the book due to questions about its content, spokesman Wayde Byard told the Post. A "committee recommended (on a split vote) to retain the book in the high school library collection [but] the superintendent decided to remove the book from circulation." The decision was appealed, and the school board appeal committee met Thursday evening, voting 3-0 to uphold the removal.
The move comes about two months after Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced that it had restored "Gender Queer," along with Jonathan Evison's "Lawn Boy," to libraries after two committees reviewed them and concluded that the books did not include pedophilia or obscene content.
The committee ruled that "Gender Queer" – which includes photos of sexual acts between a boy and a man – depicts "difficulties nonbinary and asexual individuals may face." The committee concluded that "the book neither depicts nor describes pedophilia." The committee also claimed that the book did not flout "regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia."
Stacy Langton, the Fairfax County mother who confronted the school board with images from the books in September, appealed the decision, and on Jan. 11, Superintendent Scott Braband sent a letter rejecting her appeal. He said that "there were no errors in the review process" and that he agreed with the committee's report.
"I find it very dishonest of Brabrand to state that there is ‘no pedophilia’ and that the images are ‘not obscene’ when the images are objectively so, by any measure, and his counterpart in the next county agrees they are ‘inappropriate,’" Langton told Fox News.
Ian Serotkin, vice chair of the Loudoun County School Board and a member of the committee that upheld the removal of "Gender Queer," told Fox News that he voted to keep "Lawn Boy" in the Loudoun libraries.
In a statement on his "Gender Queer" vote, Serotkin noted that he never before voted to remove a book from LCPS. He defended some of the books that have been challenged "because they contained gay characters or LGBTQ themes." Yet he claimed that "sexual content is a large part" of "Gender Queer."
"It is not fleeting or brief," he added. "The sexually explicit illustrations which have gotten significant media and public attention may only appear on a handful of pages, but sexual themes are pervasive throughout the book. And, the sexually explicit illustrations themselves cannot be ignored. I think I can draw a line between something being described in writing and it being depicted in living color."
When Fox News reached out to FCPS for comment, the school district referred Fox News back to its committee reports, rather than addressing the LCPS claims.
"Loudoun County Public Schools has finally made a wise decision, listening to parents about the dangerous phenomenon of woke porn landing in the hands of children," Asra Nomani, a Fairfax County mother and vice president at Parents Defending Education, told Fox News. "Other school systems, including Fairfax County, Virginia, should pay heed, instead of insisting on virtue signaling."
"Just as we don’t allow Playboy or Penthouse in school libraries, we have to make adult decisions about putting age-appropriate content in the hands of America’s children," Nomani added. "With its graphic image of a man sexually fondling a prepubescent boy, Gender Queer is not appropriate for children."
Nomani noted that Glenn Youngkin won the 2021 gubernatorial election in part by raising "the issue of parental input in what is taught in schools, days after the Fairfax County school board shut down a mother making her plea about Gender Queer. In a blow to his campaign, Terry McAuliffe doubled-down on insisting parents should not have a say in what is taught in schools. It’s interesting that Loudoun County leaders reversed course as Gov. Youngkin was coming into office."
"Superintendent Ziegler finally made a good decision, as did the board members that upheld it," Ian Prior, a Loudoun County dad and executive director at Fight for Schools, told Fox News. "These books may be fine for Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and even a public library. But once they are in the school libraries and classrooms, they effectively take on government sponsorship of ideologies that should not be forced on children over the reasonable objections of their parents."